Reclaim Today: Tumamelt and Telepresence

024: Tunamelts and Telepresence

On Thursday Tim and I recorded yet another Reclaim Today episode, and I have to say this may be my favorite to date. Not only because we are beginning to see some of the fun possibilities manifest with the Reclaim TV Studio in this production, but it might mark the beginning of a truly awesome project. Tim and I have no shortage of good ideas when we get going, but Tim has really hit on some gold in his recent quest to bridge time and space to make sure Reclaim Arcade stays weird. He’s a genius, and I love the madness. But I might be getting ahead of myself here a bit, but the short version is he discovered this very cool site called Telemelt by Andrew Reitano, which is a way to play emulated NES games (amongst others) latency free online with friends. With the simple click of the spacebar you can switch who controls the game, and it is remarkably seamless, totally free, and a by-product of our current locked-down reality.

And to this equation Tim added another dimension, me and him playing them together in the proverbial and very real console living room in Fredericksburg with him in person and me on the robot. The combination of playing seamlessly via the browser and then “being” in the same space as a robot was quite remarkable. Which led him to the idea of what if we can replicate this latency-free game play for the Reclaim Arcade cabinets and have folks come in via robot and play with others that are in the physical space? A fleet of robots occupied by folks all over the world playing games in Reclaim Arcade….CAN YOU DIG IT!

I am sure I’ll have more to say about this, but it is also worth noting that this was our first stream using multiple-scenes with green screens and a little OBS Ninja action. I’m not gonna lie, I am loving our new streaming overlords 🙂

The Future Perfect: Designing Reclaim Arcade

We will have built an arcade in Fredericksburg, Virginia by Spring 2020.

I have always sucked at grammar, but the future perfect tense finally makes sense to me. It indicates an action will have been completed at some point in the future, which is exactly the case for Reclaim Arcade. We officially announced our intentions with the arcade at the end of last month (check out the Facebook page, Instagram and Twitter–and like and subscribe for more!), but I was traveling much of the last 3 weeks so an update is in order given a lot has happened since the public announcement last month.

Visual aesthetic for Reclaim Arcade

Probably the biggest news is that last week Tim and I secured the funding we needed in the form of a bank loan to build a full blown 80s tech noir arcade to match our vision—which is bold! As you can see from the design reference points above, the arcade and bar will be inspired by a Blade Runner-esque aesthetic because the future is literally now!

We will have at least 30 taps of a wide variety of beer, cider, and wine, and 50+ arcade games and pinball machines. We’ve been working with a local design firm, Spaces, and we have settled on a floor plan and design that is pretty awesome.

We took one of the five plans Spaces provided us, and did some small modifications to get the above layout. You will enter the space through Reclaim Video (at the lower, left-hand corner of the above plan), and  there will be no major changes to that space, other than enlarging the passage to the back room, a couple of mounted 32″ and 27″ Sony Trinitron CRTs and a much needed decluttering or VHS kipple. This will be where we welcome folks, ID any one who wants an adult beverage, and hopefully rent a video or two ? After that, folks will go into the back of Reclaim Video and be immediately presented with a glass-enclosed 80s living room, a la the UMW Console Living Room:

Image of the UMW Console Living Room

UMW’s Console Living room in March 2015

This space will be a reproduction of a 1980s living room that will hit folks coming into Reclaim Arcade for the first time like a diamond through the forehead. You can hang out in the space and play one of several 80s gaming consoles (including Atari 5200), watch TV on several of the OG networks (ideally mixed with localized commercials and news content), and/or play something on VHS, Betamax, or laserdisc from Reclaim Video. The space will be reservable for parties, and like the VHS store, it will be one of several time capsule installations throughout the space. Moving on from there you will go into the actual arcade which will feature 50+ games, the pinball will be along the other-side of the wall from the living room, and you squares and rectangles in the main space represent pinball machines and arcade cabinets. It’s a fairly large open space where we’re currently running CoWork, the main difference will be the removal of the conference room (that glass will be repurposed for the living room) and two additional bathrooms. There will also be several areas to sit and imbibe from the self-pouring taps, order some food from the kitchen, or choose from a wide variety of games to play. 

HP garage from the 1930s

Another cool feature of the space will be the 1930s garage jutting out the back of the building. It is currently office space, but it will be modeled on an exhibit I went to in the early 1990s at the LACMA that has stuck with me for 3 decades now. I have been unable to remember (or trace) the artist—I thought it was Edward Keinholz, but can’t find anything to back that up—but the installation may have been the best thing I ever saw. The artist re-created a 1930s garage, including the chirp of crickets, the smell of the past, and a ton of odd-ball screws, forgotten tools, and the necessary disarray. It will be kind of like the HP Garage museum that was considered the birthplace of Silicon Valley, but without all the venture capital ?  I see it as exposed 2 x 4s, a cement floor, as well as various tools hanging on the walls. The space (like all of them) will not simply be for show, rather it will have a garage door opening from within the main space and will be where we maintain and fix the various games that will inevitably break.

Animated GIF of Homer Simpson opening a garage door

We will also have an area designated for food preparation behind the wall of self-pouring taps, and there will be a service window for picking up food, snacks, etc. If you are still following along, you will notice that this is just two-thirds of the space, “What about the other third?”, you ask. Well, thanks for asking, the other third of the space to the right-hand side of the above plan, including the conference room towards the bottom middle, will be the Reclaim Hosting office. So, let’s think about this for a second. To the far right is Reclaim Video, then Reclaim Arcade, and finally Reclaim Hosting (the entity make all of this even possible). We will have everything in the strip mall save the Dentist office, it will truly be a beautiful thing to see all that Reclaim signage side-by-side!!! Anyway, you may have noticed in the floor plan above that the conference room will be connected to the arcade. As of now, the arcade’s hours will not overlap with work day for Reclaim Hosting, so we figured we could make the conference room a dual-purpose space that can work for private parties in the arcade as well as a conference room for our office space from 9-5. We have not really settled on a design fro the conference room just yet, so that will be fun to imagine, but I do think we have an idea or two for Reclaim Hosting’s office. I was chatting with Tim (that’s how all good ideas start) and floated the idea of designing the offices in the spirit of a 1970s server room. Basically get some storage furniture in the wall to the right and make it look like a full blown DEC VAX 11/780:

This is an aesthetic I have been a fan of for a long while, and the idea of reproducing something like this  (which will actually be storage) with a roaming terminal, some tape machines, and a few punch cards would be amazing. I was thinking we could even have some lab coats hanging around for the occasional office photo op ? It will be pretty awesome for Reclaim Hosting to have its own office space finally, and the idea of hearkening back to another era of the internet and hosting might be a fun aesthetic and history to play with, but as of now this is still a pretty nascent idea—although ideas move pretty quick around Reclaim: if you will it, it is no dream!  

Reclaim Remix ‘n’ Match: a Visual Thinkery Production

I do love myself some Visual Thinkery creativeness, and I’m not gonna lie, when it invokes Reclaim Hosting I am a complete sucker ? Bryan Mather’s latest twist metaphor for the Remix Machine is the Flip Book, and it is oh so good! Reclaim Your Domain indeed! And Reclaim the awesome sense of artistry, inspiration and just plain fun! So, I couldn’t resist a quick riff on my last post!

The Remix Machine runs on support from folks like you reading this, so if you have the means and are so inclined, support some local web art!

Make Trax

We are adding a seventh early 80s video game cabinet to the ever-growing Reclaim Arcade. The games is a bit niche, I first knew it as Crush Roller (which is odd given that was its name in Japan), but it is most popularly known in the US as Make Trax (1981). The game is pretty trippy, you are basically a paint brush that tries to paint the entire maze without being killed by two fish (I had no idea they were fish, I always thought they were paint drips in the shape of a tear drop) who patrol the area. What’s more, if one of several animals/objects are released and leave prints or tracks you have to repaint the effected area. It’s obviously inspired by Pac-man, with the fish like ghosts and the various animals/objects akin to fruit. The power-ups are basically paint rollers that give you enough speed and power to catch and crush the fish. The non-sensical nature of the whole enterprise is part of its appeal, and you can see the game play in the video above.

It’s our third Williams cabinet (the other two being Joust and Defender), so that makes a Williams trifecta for Reclaim Arcade, and we have our eye out for a fourth, namely Robotron—which may be Tim’s Total Reclaim restore project ? Interestingly enough, I saw a Make Trax machine last year in New Hampshire on Ebay right around the same time we started this insanity with the purchase of  Centipede, but that one was sold given we thought we would have to go all the way to New Hampshire to pick it up—this was before Tim discovered the magic of Fastenal Express.* In fact, I’m kinda glad cause as of now this one does not have sound and a is a bit beat up in terms of cigarette burns and a few cracks on the control panel overlay, but the cabinet is original and the art was fairly simply so it’s solid. The sound issue should be fairly simple to fix thanks to Tim’s new interest, and if we need another original control panel overlay we can grab one pretty easy it seems.

I guess an obvious question is still to arise for me, how many stand-up 1980s video game cabinets make an actual arcade? 


*As a side note here, it is crazy how expensive U-haul has become for traveling to retrieve a video game like this. We spent close to $500 renting a truck for one day and traveling roughly 250-300 miles to Maryland to pick-up four machine. Luckily it was a wash given we got several machines, but that price point makes picking up one machine a n0n-starter, where as Fastenal will deliver it within 30 miles for around $100.